Minimum Wage Increases Create Fresh Grounds for Lawsuits in California

Have you recently reviewed your paycheck to make sure your employer complied with the constantly increasing minimum wage? Aside from the current federal and state minimum wage rates of $7.25 and $9.00, respectively, local city minimums must also be followed. For example, we recently received notice that workers in several northern California cities were not being paid their required wages. In Oakland and San Francisco, the minimum wage is now $12.25 per hour. It will continue to increase every July until it gets to $15.00 per hour in July, 2018. For more information on rates, please see California’s Department of Industrial Relations minimum wage site.

Accordingly, employers must follow the highest minimum wage in their local area (not merely the federal or state minimums), and cannot waive it by having the employee sign an agreement. If you discover that your employer has not been meeting the minimum wage requirement, contact our office immediately so we can review your case and recover the lost wages. We can file a lawsuit on your behalf even if you no longer work for the infringing employer.

In addition, if your employer retaliates or discriminates against you for asking why you were not being paid the correct minimum wage, or because you are protecting your rights by obtaining legal representation, we can file an additional claim on your behalf against your employer for retaliation and discrimination. There are heavy penalties against employers who retaliate in this instance. Specifically, California’s Labor Code penalizes these employers $10,000, in addition to other remedies, per employee for each violation. Rest assured, the award goes directly to the employees who suffered the violation.

Further, a new law this year (AB 1897) extends liability to employers who use staffing agencies or other contractors that provide contracted labor. Of note, employers are now accountable for wage violations (and retaliation) by the labor contractor. Therefore, they can no longer claim ignorance of labor code violations committed by that third party contractor. Please remember that lawsuits seeking to recover lost wages must be filed within three years of the time those wages were earned (otherwise, wages earned prior to that time may be lost). In addition, there are other penalties that may be lost if claims are not filed within one year. See the following page for more information, or our previous blogs on wage and hour violations.

If you believe that you suffered an employment law matter related to your employee rights or know of possible wage and hour violations by your employer, prompt action to preserve your rights is vital. Contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Stephen Danz & Associates for a free consultation to discuss your circumstances and legal options.